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Chennai

Erode (Heroes of the Chennai Central Railway Station)

Chennai (India). Let’s step back to 2012! Photography is a sort of time machine for me, and surfing through my archive is an incredible source of memories…

Some 4 years ago I was in Chennai, a large Indian city on the east coast of the country (the name of the region is Tamil Nadu, to be more precise). It was Sunday morning, I had just finished an intense week of studies (I was in Chennai because at that time I was attending an executive MBA, which was including modules from different cities around the world) and my flight was scheduled for that night. So, I was completely free for some hours: what a fantastic opportunity for taking some photos!

I immediately started thinking about a possible destination for an interesting shooting, and – damn! – there wasn’t any better place than the train station! When I asked to my tuk-tuk rider to bring me to the Chennai Central Railway Station, he was a bit surprised of the fact that I was travelling without any luggage (only my camera backpack) and I guess he did not understand my intentions. After I paid him, he showed me the main entrance smiling at my excitement. In few minutes, I was in the station’s main hall, consulting the train table to choose the most “inspiring” platform for my photo-shooting session.

My straightforward decision was for the most crowded platform, where there wasn’t the train yet: I supposed people were waiting for boarding, and I was right. When “Erode” (this is the name of the train, I guess from the namesake Indian city 400 km south-west of Chennai) arrived, people started pushing each others to board, in a very disordered but nice situation.

I took this picture in that exact moment…

Interestingly, the name “Erode” comes from Greek, and it means “descending from heroes”: to be honest, I think that the true heroes here are those travelers who are boarding on what apparently will be a very crowded train!

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Indian Eyes

Chennai (India). I will never forget the moment I photographed this baby. It was during a visit at a village close to Chennai on the way to Kancheepuram.

I was there for my MBA, and with my class I had the opportunity to meet the local NGO “Hand in Hand”: it was a very emotionally intensive meeting, and I had the opportunity of learning what they do a lot to fight poverty, from supporting local communities to helping them to develop, from funding schools to eliminate the child labor problem to financing local workers with micro-finance projects; and so on… (for more information, this is the link to their website).

As said, the construction of local school is one of the pillars of their development plans, and the visit indeed was including one of them. We were warmly welcomed by students, some of them dressed with typical costumes. They were excited for our visit, but we were probably even more excited than them for the situation.

During a pause, while I was walking around the school building, I saw this child drinking. I had a big camera in my hands, so I was worried to frighten her: Conversely, she was curious about my presence there and she made me understand that she was ready to be photographed.

There are some situations where languages are not an issue, at least spoken languages. You can use your body (especially eyes) to communicate, being very efficient. When I travel with my camera and I want to take a photo of someone, there’s nothing better than stop in front of the subject keeping the camera down and make clearly – but gently and smiling – understand the intention of taking a photo. This is exactly what I did here, and this is the final result: behind this photo – for me – there is not only the portrait of a lovely baby with her glass in a hand and some drops of water still around her mouth; watching this photo there is the entire memory about a situation where I could communicate my emotion about the scene, and have the clear feeling that I was understood.

This is another aspect that makes me deeply love photography.

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